With . . . ME!
Describe your views on the dreaded Writers’ Block. I don’t believe in Writers’ Block. I think it’s a myth – an excuse – given by authors that don’t feel like writing. Perhaps it’s (unconsciously) a handy crutch to explain why they’re not writing. That said, there’s no reason why they can’t simply explain they need a break. Everyone needs that, some more often than others. My belief is that if they WANT to write, they will. If they don’t want to, they won’t. Being blocked is, perhaps, jargon to tell people they don’t want to write. What keeps you away from writing? Mostly what keeps me from writing is laziness. Part of me simply wants to grab a bag of chips and the TV remote, then vegetate for the day. The thing is, I love writing. I hate editing. At the time I’m writing this entry I’m in the process of converting an overly-long poorly-written novel into a trilogy. Things need to be fleshed out, but self-editing is a pain. Where are those chips? Right next to the remote? Perfect. What do you do with the bulk of your day? My “day job” is producing a talk show on a local radio station – WIZM, 1410 AM, 92.3 FM – in La Crosse, Wisconsin. My work day runs from 3:00 in the morning until about noon. That means it’s “lights out” at 7:00 at night, and a 2:25 alarm. Is it tough? Not once you get used to it. Even on weekends and vacations I’m up before 3:00. But there’s another aspect that is VERY hard: isolation. Most people don’t work those kinds of hours, so a social life is difficult. “Hey, Mark, want to catch a movie?” “Not unless it’s an early matinee.” My supper is when most people are taking their mid-afternoon break (if they get one). What are common traps new writers should avoid? I would caution newbies against trying to publish too early. I can pretty much guarantee your story is NOT deathless prose. I fell into that trap, and I think it hurt my career. When I first started out I wrote a fan-fiction Star Trek novel before I’d even heard of the term “fan fiction.” When I news stories said they were making a new movie, I thought my story was so good they should stop work on their movie and consider my story for their new movie. Yeah. I was “that” guy. My story was solid gold, and everyone else wrote tripe. So I sent copies of my manuscript to William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, De Forrest Kelly, James Doohan, and others. Needless to say they were all returned. But I did get a few signatures. As if that weren’t enough, my next work of solid gold (a fantasy) was shotgun-submitted to a hundred agents. That some didn’t represent fantasy didn’t matter. I needed someone – anyone – to like my work. All rejections. So I would caution new authors to consider waiting before submitting. Join a critique group. If they can’t find one, START one. That’s what I did. How can writers help each other? There’s a saying, “Iron sharpens iron.” My best suggestion is included in the above answer: find people you trust to have your best interests in mind, and share your writing. Join or form a critique group, and listen to the others. If you have writers with varying degrees of success, learn from those who have achieved more than you have. Help those who have achieved less. One thing I’d like to caution beginners about: in my martial arts training we learned, “white belts don’t teach white belts.” Beware of putting too much value on what a newbie says. But also don’t dismiss what they say. A grain of salt can kill the bad, or it can accentuate the flavor. So take it with a grain of salt.